Saturday, May 22, 2010

Conservation, ethics and pragmatism

This coming week is my last at The Land Conservancy. I found I couldn't trade job security for two more months of ethically fulfilling yet infuriatingly stunted work.

In my seven months there, I saw the beginning of a 5 year campaign to save hectares of natural space, and I saw the end of a 2.5 year campaign to purchase Madrona Farm - an organic farm that provides food to 1500 households and restaurants on Vancouver Island. I saw the restoration of Craigflower Schoolhouse after it was ravaged by fire.

The Land Conservancy is a very unusual conservation organization; it's mandate is to save pretty much anything that plays an important role in the community. Officially it is to save spaces of agricultural, heritage, or environmental importance. However, if there isn't a strong community interest in save a place then the chances of TLC being interested are limited.

There are so many things I wish for this organisation. And I love working for things I believe in - despite the fact that doing writing and public education seem somewhat removed from on the ground property stewardship.

Nonetheless, I start as an academic advisor with the Arts Institute at the end of the month. TLC can't offer me an ongoing position. Or at least they can't say one way or the other. A livable wage, RRSP contributions, benefits...These are the things that bought me. Am I selling out? Is it possible to work on something you believe in without sacrificing the life goals you set for yourself? Is it so bad that I just want to pay back my student loans?